Do You Need a Prescription for CBD Oil?

Confused by CBD laws? You're not alone...


Nowadays, CBD is everywhere. You can find it infused into everything from candy to bath salts, but one of the most popular ways of taking the substance is CBD oil. More and more companies are springing up offering their own take on CBD oil, but the legality of this is somewhat hazy.

In 2018, the updated Farm Bill ensured that the cultivation of Cannabis sativa L. plants containing less than 0.3% THC became federally legal. Following this, CBD oil was removed from the Controlled Substances Act, and the market exploded in an unprecedented fashion.

However, while CBD companies and consumers are celebrating the new law, there is just one small catch. The Farm Bill also preserved the rights of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate all cannabis-based products under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. So, while many companies state that their CBD is legal in all 50 states, this is not necessarily the case.

In this article, we explore the confusing laws surrounding cannabis-based medicine and whether you need a prescription for CBD oil. Read on to find out more.

What is CBD Oil? Is It Actually Legal?

CBD is short for cannabidiol, one of the many active compounds produced by the cannabis plant. CBD can be extracted from both hemp and marijuana; the difference is that hemp contains very little in the way of THC. THC is the compound in marijuana that produces its characteristic high. It is the primary reason why the plant has faced so much persecution over the years.

Thanks to an increase in cannabis research over the past few decades, the potential benefits of CBD have become widely recognized. Unlike THC, it does not produce a high and is considered to be safe and well-tolerated. And thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, it has become readily available both online and in physical stores.

However, while CBD oil with a THC content of 0.3% or less is now federally legal, the situation varies slightly from state to state. For example, in Georgia, the Low THC Oil Registry allows qualifying patients to possess CBD oil with a THC content of up to 5%. In contrast, Idaho does not allow for any THC in your CBD oil whatsoever.

The situation becomes even more confusing when it comes to actually getting hold of your CBD oil. Do you need a prescription, or can you simply walk into a drugstore and purchase a bottle? Once again, it all depends on where you live…

Do You Need to Get a Prescription for CBD Oil?

do you need a prescription for cbd oil

At the time of writing, a total of 33 states have medical marijuana laws in place. If you are lucky enough to live in one of these states, you can apply for a medical card and get access to a whole range of different cannabis-based products.

However, if you are in one of the remaining states, CBD oil may be your only option. And depending on how liberal your state is, you may or may not need a prescription to get access to CBD. In some places, it is readily available, whereas others require you to register with a program, similar to the medical marijuana programs offered by other states.

Like medical marijuana programs, states with a CBD oil registry require that you suffer from a specific medical condition to qualify. These conditions vary from state to state, so you will need to check to see which conditions are listed for yours.

To confuse the matter even further, some states only allow for CBD products that have been approved by the FDA. This limits your options considerably as the FDA currently does not approve regular CBD oil as a medicine or supplement.

We have not included the specific details on CBD laws in individual states as they are continually being updated. If you want to know whether you need a prescription for CBD oil in your area, we recommend that you contact your local health department for further information.

Which CBD Products are Approved by the FDA?

The only cannabidiol product which is currently approved by the FDA is Epidiolex. This medicine was developed by GW Pharmaceuticals and is licensed in the treatment of drug-resistant forms of epilepsy such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. As the product has undergone rigorous testing, the FDA has deemed it to be both safe and effective. Sadly, this is more than can be said for other forms of CBD.

Thanks to the illegal status of cannabis for the last century, research into the plant has been severely lacking. This means the FDA is unwilling to approve cannabis-based products for the treatment of any disease or medical condition. Its use as a supplement or food additive is also currently unapproved.

The FDA does allow CBD to be used in cosmetic products, although this is also subject to strict regulations. The actual legality of CBD is all dependent on how it is labeled and marketed, and this is where many companies fall foul of the law.

Aside from the dubious legality of many CBD products, customers are presented with another significant problem. Until the FDA fully approves CBD oil as a medicine or supplement, the market will remain completely unregulated. This lack of scrutiny leaves manufacturers free to produce low-quality oils which at best may have no effect, and at worst may damage consumer health.

Therefore, if you intend to use CBD, be sure to find a reputable source. This rule applies equally whether you get your oil on prescription or over the counter.

Where Can You Buy CBD Oil Over the Counter?

While CBD oil is widely available online, consumers in select states can purchase over-the-counter CBD at drugstores such as CVS and Walgreens. However, these stores are playing it safe initially by only stocking topical products which comply with the FDA’s stringent guidelines.

If you live in a more liberal state, you may also find CBD in specialist stores. There have even been reports of the cannabinoid being sold at gas stations! Whether these products are reliable or not is an entirely different matter, though.

Remember only to buy CBD from a reputable brand and don’t be sucked in by low prices. You get what you pay for in the world of CBD, and if the cost of a product seems too good to be true, it probably is.

For some of our top-rated CBD oils, check out this article on the Top CBD Oil Brands for 2019.

Do You Need a Prescription for CBD Oil? Final Thoughts

Although CBD and cannabis-based medicines are becoming more widely available, residents of certain states may still have some difficulty accessing it. For example, if you reside in a state with a CBD oil registry, you will need to suffer from one of the listed qualifying conditions and get approval from your doctor.

However, the majority of Americans can now enjoy easy access to CBD oil, either online or in retail stores. While this news is undoubtedly positive, it does highlight the need for caution when choosing products. In a largely unregulated market, some brands offer high-quality CBD while others simply fail to make the grade.

Until the FDA relaxes its stance on cannabis-based products, this situation is unlikely to change. So, however you get hold of your CBD, be sure to choose a brand that you can trust. Don’t get sucked in by flashy packaging or low prices, but look for a company that is well-established, reliable, and has positive customer reviews.

Finally, ensure that you are familiar with the CBD rules and regulations in your area. There is a lot of misinformation out there, so do your own research and stay on the right side of the law.

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